Our Roving Chef, Jane Hughes, reports on an unusual opportunity to speak up for vegetarians and vegans.
‘There’s no such thing as hard to reach groups… only easy to ignore ones.’ The slogan of the Speak Out Network really resonated with me as I thought of the elderly vegetarians and vegans whose requests have sometimes been all too easy to ignore.
The Speak Out Network is made up of representatives from an incredibly diverse collection of minority groups, such as people with sensory disabilities, people of minority faiths, the homeless, members of the LGBT community, travellers and people with learning disabilities. And vegetarians and vegans! As we clustered around circular tables ideally suited for small group discussions, I soon realised that, although we were all representing different interests, we were all the same in many ways – we were all people who could spot injustices and wanted to speak out to try to make a difference.
We were there to provide some feedback to the Care Quality Commission, who wanted our views on the way they communicate information about the quality of services such as hospitals and care homes to ‘service users’. Inevitably, we all had our own points to share! Amanda and I sat at different tables to make sure that the VfL message reached as many people as possible.
One older representative of the LGBT community read us a very moving poem she had written about the problems faced by seniors who have lost same-sex partners and are entering care – many do not dare to share their sadness for fear of getting the cold shoulder in their new homes. It was easy to empathise with this and it made me feel very sad.
I’m so glad that VfL is speaking out to try to make things easier not only for the elderly vegetarians and vegans who are in care today but also for the generations to come.